1 February 2019
Having fewer officers on the streets is one key factor in an increase in knife crime, says Leicestershire Police Federation chair Dave Stokes.
And therefore there needs to be a re-investment in policing to get numbers back up to the levels of 2010 when the Government’s cuts to police budgets began to take hold, he explains.
Reacting to new Home Office proposals to tackle knife crime published this week, Dave says: “The new knife crime legislation will not reduce or stop knife crime. What we need is a three-strand approach - proactive policing, stop searching and strong sentencing. It’s no more complicated than that.
“The truth is there are less cops on the streets, meaning less proactive patrols. Cops are worried about using stop and search powers because there was a shift in public opinion in the use of such powers. There was too much notice paid towards human rights campaigners, and an uncomfortable feeling among officers that they would be challenged about stop searches of minority groups.
“So, it’s no wonder knife carrying has risen and that knife crime has gone up as a consequence.”
The Home Office has announced it is seeking to amend the Offensive Weapons Bill to include the following new measures:
The new Knife Crime Prevention Orders would be given to anyone aged 12 or over with the aim of stopping vulnerable young people from becoming involved in knife possession and knife crime. They would fill a gap not covered by gang injunctions and criminal behaviour orders.
Introducing the measures, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I have been clear that I will do everything in my power to tackle the senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives.
“The police already have a range of measures they are using to keep our streets safe, but there is more we can do to help them in this battle. I have listened to their calls and will be introducing these new orders to stop gang members carrying knives in the first place.
“It is vital we continue to focus on improving the law enforcement response while at the same time steering young people away from criminal activity in the first place.”
But the national chair of the Police Federation, John Apter, claimed the Home Secretary had, yet again, missed the opportunity to make a significant impact on knife crime.
“The Government is simply tinkering around the edges of this highly complex and very serious issue. While I cannot fault Mr Javid’s intentions, I do not hold out much hope that these measures will have the dramatic impact I am sure he is hoping they will,” John said.
And he added: “Mr Javid says he has listened to the police. But his hearing appears to be selective. I urge him to listen now, to listen to the public, and to listen to my members when they tell him the most effective way to address this problem is by putting more police boots on the ground.
“We need officers out on our streets actively targeting this crime epidemic where it is happening, and helping to stop yet more lives being lost to this preventable evil.”
*Officer numbers have fallen every year since 2010. At the end of September 2018, there were 21,000 fewer officers across England and Wales than there were in 2010 (Source Home Office).